The Wire

  • New tunnel, premium RV section at Talladega Superspeedway on schedule despite weather

    Excerpt:

    Construction of a new oversized vehicle tunnel and premium RV infield parking section at Talladega Superspeedway is still on schedule to be completed in time for the April NASCAR race, despite large amounts of rainfall and unusual groundwater conditions underneath the track.

    Track Chairman Grant Lynch, during a news conference Wednesday at the track, said he’s amazed the general contractor, Taylor Corporation of Oxford, has been able to keep the project on schedule.

    “The amount of water they have pumped out of that and the extra engineering they did from the original design, basically to keep that tunnel from floating up out of the earth, was remarkable,” Lynch said.

  • Alabama workers built 1.6M engines in 2018 to add auto horsepower

    Excerpt:

    Alabama’s auto workers built nearly 1.6 million engines last year, as the state industry continues to carve out a place in global markets with innovative, high-performance parts, systems and finished vehicles.

    Last year also saw major new developments in engine manufacturing among the state’s key players, and more advanced infrastructure is on the way in the coming year.

    Hyundai expects to complete a key addition to its engine operations in Montgomery during the first half of 2019, while Honda continues to reap the benefits of a cutting-edge Alabama engine line installed several years ago.

  • Groundbreaking on Alabama’s newest aerospace plant made possible through key partnerships

    Excerpt:

    Political and business leaders gathered for a groundbreaking at Alabama’s newest aerospace plant gave credit to the formation of the many key partnerships that made it possible.

    Governor Kay Ivey and several other federal, state and local officials attended the event which celebrated the construction of rocket engine builder Blue Origin’s facility in Huntsville.

5 hours ago

7 Things: Alabama State Health Officer says to take any coronavirus vaccine, Alabama Democrats think all protesters are rioters, U.S. Capitol still faces threats and more …

7. Joe Reed: Keep straight-ticket voting in Alabama

  • Democratic Party leader Joe Reed has come out against a piece of legislation that would get rid of straight-ticket voting throughout Alabama. Reed asked that the 24 Democratic members of the House of Representatives who have decided to co-sponsor the bill remove their support.
  • Reed asked the question, “What is wrong with a person voting the straight-ticket?” He added that he doesn’t know of any “harm” straight-ticket voting does to the “Democratic process,” and he focused on how removing straight-ticket voting would ultimately hurt the Democratic Party as it would remove support from candidates with less name ID.

6. $15 minimum wage is out of the coronavirus stimulus bill

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  • Congressional Democrats’ attempts to force a minimum wage hike into a completely unrelated coronavirus stimulus bill were stymied by Elizabeth MacDonough, the Senate parliamentarian who declared the provision violated budgetary rules.
  • Democrats will now have to gain Republican support for the measure or do it by killing the filibuster, a move they probably can’t pull off. Democrats like U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) are not happy and expressed as such, saying, “I’m sorry — an unelected parliamentarian does not get to deprive 32 million Americans the raise they deserve. This is an advisory, not a ruling. VP Harris needs to disregard and rule a $15 minimum wage in order. We were elected to deliver for the people. It’s time we do our job.”

5. Equality Act passes in Congress, Alabama takes another path

  • With only three Republicans voting for the Equality Act, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill in a 224-206 vote. The bill provides protections for those in the LGBTQ+ community in a wide range, including allowing transgender people to participate in their chosen gender’s league for sports.
  • In Alabama, a bill was approved by a House committee that would forbid doctors from using puberty-blocking medications, hormones and surgeries on transgender minors.

4. Legislature taking their time with medical marijuana

  • Alabama House Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) has said that in the House of Representatives, they’re going take their time with the medical marijuana bill by sending it through the Judiciary and Health Committees.
  • McCutcheon said, “We’re going to go through the bill page-by-page.” The medical marijuana bill has already passed the State Senate and has to be passed by the House before Governor Kay Ivey can sign it into law.

3. Threats against the U.S. Capitol ahead of State of the Union

  • It hasn’t been scheduled or announced when President Joe Biden will give his first State of the Union address, but acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman has said that there are credible threats to “blow up” the U.S. Capitol during the address. Pittman said this is why it’s necessary for security measures, like National Guardsman and the barbed wire fence, to stay in place.
  • Meanwhile, U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) wants a fair and balanced investigation into the riots at the U.S. Capitol. He will even testify under oath during it, and he may get it after all.

2. Bill targeting rioters is somehow aimed at peaceful protesters

  • The legislation brought by State Representative Allen Treadaway (R-Morris) that would make rioting or inciting a riot a felony has received some backlash from State Senator Rodger Smitherman (D-Birmingham), who claims that the bill will actually target peaceful protesters.
  • Smitherman said that this bill “seeks to take us back 60 years to where we were at that particular time,” referencing the 1960s and 1970s when protestors were arrested. He went on to assert that this bill would lead to those who are protesting being arrested, adding, “We can’t allow to go back 60 years in time to try to oppress people from being able to…speak out.”

1. State Health Officer: Take the coronavirus vaccine made available to you

  • State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris is advising that people in Alabama should simply take whichever coronavirus vaccine that’s available to them. This came into question as it’s anticipated that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be approved by the Food and Drug Administration soon.
  • Dr. Harris stated, “This is a vaccine that prevents deaths and prevents even serious illness and hospitalization at the exact same rate as the other vaccines,” which doesn’t seem to be true.

1 day ago

7 Things: Alabama’s no-excuse absentee voting could get easier, medical marijuana advances, many Confederate monuments have fallen in Alabama and more …

7. Anti-infanticide bill advances

  • State Representative Ginny Shaver’s (R-Leesburg) bill that would require medical attention be given to those who are “born alive” after an attempted abortion has been approved by the House Judiciary Committee. 
  • Shaver has explained that this bill deals with the “situation where a child survives an abortion attempt and is born alive, it would require a physician to exercise the same reasonable care to preserve the life of the child that is born alive.” Those who voted against the bill were State Representatives Chris England (D-Tuscaloosa) and Merika Coleman (D-Birmingham).

6. Pelosi’s commission to investigate U.S. Capitol riot won’t be objective

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  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has proposed a commission to investigate the U.S. Capitol riot on January 6, and now Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has spoken out about the issues with the commission. 
  • Pelosi’s commission would be made up of seven Democrats, but only four Republicans. Republicans wouldn’t have any sway in the subpoena powers. McConnell said this “inquiry with a hard-wired partisan slant would never be legitimate in the eyes of the American people,” adding, “An undertaking that is uneven or unjust would not help our country.”

5. Shelby OK with “meritorious” earmarks

  • As Democrats returned to power, they brought a return of spending earmarks, or spending directed by members of Congress, back into the arena. U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), known appropriator and ranking member on the Senate Appropriations Committee, backs the return of “meritorious and transparent” earmarks. He stated, “If they are frivolous requests, they should go by the wayside.”
  • The question about what is meritorious is obviously in the eye of the beholder, and much will be made about congressmen “bringing home the bacon” and getting their district/state’s fair share. Members of Congress will have to play this game or get left out altogether.

4. CVS to give the vaccine in Alabama as FDA approves Johnson & Johnson vaccine

  • Nine CVS stores will soon have the ability to give the coronavirus vaccine across the state in Union Springs, Lanett, Jackson, Evergreen, Greensboro, Moulton, Tuskegee, Bayou La Batre and Camden. Governor Kay Ivey noted this is a big part of getting the vaccine delivered. “We are truly in the midst of a historic vaccination rollout, and it will take strong partnerships like this to get the job done,” she advised.
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has announced that the single-dose coronavirus vaccine from Johnson & Johnson is 66% effective at preventing the coronavirus, and they’ve said it’s safe to use. It won’t be decided until Friday whether the vaccine can be recommended for emergency use in the nation. The final decision on the vaccine should be coming in the next few days. Johnson & Johnson has already said they’ll be able to vaccinate about 20 million people by the end of March if approved soon.  

3. Alabama is super-safe now that some mean monuments are gone

  • The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has put together a report on the Confederate monuments and markers removed in 2020, which included 12 in the state of Alabama. Many of the symbols were removed after George Floyd’s death. SPLC added that there were 167 Confederate markers removed across the country after Floyd’s death. 
  • SPLC chief of staff Lecia Brooks said, “Over the course of seven months, more symbols of hate were removed from public property than in the proceeding four years combined.” Overall, Alabama tied with Texas for third-most Confederate symbols removed last year. 

2. Medical marijuana approved by Alabama Senate

  • The medical marijuana bill by State Senator Tim Melson (R-Florence) has passed the Senate in a 21-8 vote. Previously, the bill passed the Senate but was held up in the House of Representatives. 
  • The legislation only allows a select few medical conditions to qualify for being prescribed marijuana, and none of the approved methods would be smokeable. An amendment was added to the bill to include sickle cell anemia to the list of medical conditions. 

1. Bill would allow no-excuse absentee voting

  • The Constitution, Campaigns, and Elections Committee in the Alabama House held a public hearing on a bill by State Representative Laura Hall (D-Huntsville) that would remove the requirement to have an excuse to vote absentee. 
  • At the hearing, Secretary of State John Merrill’s communications director Grace Newcomb spoke in favor of the legislation, as well as State Representative Adline Clarke (D-Mobile). The committee will likely vote on the bill next week. 

2 days ago

7 Things: UAB doctor suggests herd immunity by May, gambling bill is delayed, Woodfin draws heat on Amazon union vote and more …

7. Biden’s cages are different than Trump’s, so that makes it OK now

  • News outlets have been reporting on the new facilities President Joe Biden had built for migrant children at the southern border. Of course, there was less than minimal outrage from the same sources that previously raged against President Donald Trump keeping kids in cages.
  • White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked about Biden’s facilities and how they were different from what Trump was doing, and said, “These are facilities. … This is not kids being kept in cages.” She added that the goal is for children “to then be transferred to families or sponsors.”

6. U.S. Representative Brooks supports constitutional carry

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  • State Representative Andrew Sorrell (R-Muscle Shoals) has introduced a constitutional carry bill that would remove the requirement for citizens of Alabama to have a permit for concealed carry of a pistol.
  • U.S. Representative Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) has voiced his support for the legislation, as has the National Rifle Association. While voicing his support, Brooks said, “The Constitution doesn’t say the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed unless a state government disagrees.”

5. The battle over unionization Amazon heats up

  • Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin upset labor activists by failing to outright endorse the unionization effort in Bessemer, a city he is not the mayor of. He instead stated, “I think if employees want to unionize, they should have that right.” Because of this, he was attacked and completely changed his position.
  • Additional attention is being brought to a program that has been a part of the Amazon culture for years where they pay employees to quit. This program is offered every February, just like it is this year, but activists are claiming that it is an effort to weed out union activists.

4. Officials at U.S. Capitol hearings argue the Jan. 6 insurrection was pre-planned

  • What is sure to be one of many public hearings that take a look at the riots at on U.S. Capitol on January 6 took place yesterday with a focus on the root cause, response to, communication failures, delays on deploying the National Guard, focus on white supremacists and conspiracy theorists, and the personal stories of those on the ground.
  • Interestingly, and almost surely to be forgotten, is the number of officials who laid out that the attack on the U.S. Capitol was a planned and pre-meditated event that could not have been spurred on by speeches made by now-former President Donald Trump and others, including U.S. Representative Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville).

3. Alabama’s legislative priorities are set

  • After a one-week break to access how coronavirus affected the beginning of the legislative session, the Alabama Legislature is back, and new Senate Pro Tempore Greg Reed (R-Jasper) returned with a set of new priorities. These priorities include supporting economic recovery, state agencies and Alabama’s critical military presence and veterans, as well as the legislature’s annual responsibility to pass the General Fund and Education Trust Fund budgets.
  • Reed notes that they are back and building on the work they have already done. He advised, “Heading in to the first two weeks of session, we in the Senate came to an agreement with House leadership on three priority pieces of legislation – a bill to protect groups from frivolous COVID-19 lawsuits, a bill to ensure federal COVID-relief dollars aren’t taxed by the state government, and legislation to reauthorize important economic development incentives that expired last year.”

2. Action on lottery delayed

  • State Senator Del Marsh (R-Anniston) wants to work on the enabling bill for the lottery and gambling bill before there’s further action taken, so the legislation has been put on hold. 
  • This is being done to work out more details in the bill, specifically with gambling and casinos. There’s going to be work done to further explain how gambling in the state would work if the constitutional amendment is approved by voters. 

1. Herd immunity likely coming soon for COVID

  • University of Alabama at Birmingham epidemiologist in the School of Public Health Suzanne Judd, Ph.D. has said that the United States is likely approaching herd immunity with the coronavirus.
  • This estimate is based on a recent study from Columbia University, which said that by the end of January, one-third of the population has already had the coronavirus. Judd said that herd immunity should be reached by May as more people get infected or get vaccinated. She added that the coronavirus “is going to be like the seasonal flu, something we have to tolerate regularly.”

3 days ago

7 Things: Ivey supports current gambling proposal, America eclipses 500,000 coronavirus deaths, Alabama Dems support some riots and more …

7. Alabama Policy Institute hammers Kay Ivey for calling legislature a “herd of turtles” 

  • Last week, Governor Kay Ivey dismissed the proposed legislation that would limit executive powers during an emergency by referring to the legislature as a “herd of turtles.”
  • The Alabama Policy Institute called this response “cavalier,” adding her comment was “a step too far.” The API also focused on how Ivey didn’t call a special session last year “because she does not deem them as necessary to the processes of governance.”

6. Trump’s tax records have to be turned over

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  • The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that former President Donald Trump’s tax records have to be turned over to a New York State prosecutor.
  • As part of a criminal investigation, the records aren’t supposed to be made public. Previously, Trump has called these efforts “a fishing expedition.”

5. There will be no conflict of interest in NY’s nursing home probe

  • U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland spoke about the issue of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) being investigated for the coronavirus nursing home crisis, and Garland said the Department of Justice will avoid conflicts of interest during the investigation.
  • Garland said that he “can guarantee that a person with a conflict of interest will not be the person running an investigation of any kind.” The investigation into the Cuomo administration is already in the early stages but has put massive pressure on the governor for how he allegedly covered up nursing home deaths.

4. Defense secretary supports process that selected Huntsville for Space Command

  • The inspector general for the Department of Defense has opened an investigation to move the U.S. Space Command Headquarters to Huntsville’s Redstone Arsenal after accusations that President Donald Trump influenced the decision due to politics. Secretary of Defense Llyod Austin backed the “decision-making process” that named Huntsville as the preferred location of Space Command headquarters but supports the investigation.
  • Governor Kay Ivey has confidently welcomed the investigation, saying, “Our state was chosen based on merit, and an independent review of a decision of this magnitude will confirm this.” The congressional delegation seems confident, for the most part, that this move will come to be. The Air Force has also confirmed that Alabama was the best choice for the headquarters. 

3. Alabama Democrats are pro-rioting

  • The chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party, State Representative Christopher England (D-Tuscaloosa), has spoken out against a piece of legislation that would target rioters and those that would take to the street and destroy property while also creating punishments for municipalities that attempt to defund the police.  
  • The silly question being asked by Alabama Democrats is, according to aldotcom, “How should Black people express their frustration?”–  as if we need different tiers of justice for different people. This takes an odd position, given the U.S. Capitol riots have been condemned universally while Alabama Democrats have decided that some rioting is OK and some is not

2. U.S. passes 500,000 coronavirus deaths, Alabama lowers flags

  • The United States has surpassed the grim 500,000 death milestone with the coronavirus. President Joe Biden paid tribute to those who have died from the virus, adding that this milestone is “truly grim” and “heartbreaking.” Governor Kay Ivey has ordered Alabama flags to half-staff in remembrance as well.
  • While this is a startling death toll, the situation with the coronavirus pandemic is improving nationally as the vaccine rollout continues. Cases and hospitalizations have fallen throughout the month of February, and there’s a promise that the trend could continue with the vaccine.

1. Ivey supports the gambling bill

  • After a ceremony declaring that February 22 was Supermarket Employees Day, Governor Kay Ivey spoke with reporters and mentioned support for State Senator Del Marsh’s (R-Anniston) lottery and gambling bill. 
  • Ivey said she supports the legislation “So far,” which she was specifically referring to the lottery and five casinos mentioned in the bill. 

4 days ago

7 Things: Alabama coronavirus numbers keep improving, Terri Sewell weighing U.S. Senate bid, Ivey and legislature jockeying for power and more …

7. Now the White House doesn’t want to praise Cuomo

  • President Joe Biden has considered New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) “the gold standard” for how to handle the coronavirus pandemic, but now that Cuomo is facing investigation for how he covered up nursing home deaths, the White House wants to distance itself from the governor.
  • White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked if Cuomo is still “the gold standard,” but instead of directly answering the question, she mentioned how Cuomo is the chair of the National Governors Association and the “role” he plays in helping during the pandemic. Regarding the investigation, she said they’re going to “leave that to others to determine, the appropriate law enforcement authorities to determine how that path is going to move as we look forward.”

6. Biden has us back in the Paris climate agreement

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  • President Joe Biden has officially brought the United States back into the Paris Agreement, which was expected after some of the environmental executive orders he signed right after taking office.
  • Despite concerns that businesses might have about the agreement, Biden has previously said that this is necessary. Special envoy for climate John Kerry has said that the Paris Agreement isn’t enough, adding, “If every country delivered, we’d still see a warming planet Earth.” Kerry said this to stress that more actions need to be taken.

5. Alabama exports will rebound this year

  • In 2020, exports from Alabama declined by 17.6%, but it still totaled $17.13 billion; there were areas of exports that saw growth. Overall, the state remains 10% higher than it did in 2010. Governor Kay Ivey said, “Despite the challenges, Alabama has maintained and in fact strengthened its reputation as a reliable exporter of products and services.”
  • It’s anticipated that the exports in Alabama will rebound in 2021, but 2020 still saw growth in agriculture products by 196.7%, medical equipment by 53.8%, forest products by 22.8% and textile mill products by 50%.

4. Let the legislature call a special session

  • In 2020, the legislature was unable to meet for most of the year because of the coronavirus pandemic, but also because Governor Kay Ivey never called a special session and those in the legislature can’t call the session themselves. Some are working to try and change that.
  • State Representative Becky Nordgren (R-Gadsden) is proposing a constitutional amendment that would let the Alabama Legislature call itself into session, and she’s argued that some other governors working with “really heavy hands” by keeping states shut down is even more reason for this legislation. With the constitutional amendment, a Senate president pro tempore and speaker of the House, followed by a two-thirds majority vote, would be able to call a special session.

3. Ivey brushes off the idea of limiting executive powers

  • Some in the legislature have brought forward measures that would limit the powers of the governor by including the House and Senate in issuing emergency declarations, but Governor Kay Ivey has shown that she’s not concerned about these issues.
  • Ivey appeared on Alabama Public Television’s “Capitol Journal,” and she said that “the executive branch has been given the authority to act in emergencies is because it is an emergency.” Ivey added that “in an emergency, you don’t need a herd of turtles gathering to make an emergency decision.”

2. Terri Sewell will never run for Senate

  • Questions have been floating about who could run as a Democrat for U.S. Senator Richard Shelby’s (R-AL) seat after he retires next year, but now U.S. Representative Terri Sewell (D-Birmingham) has indicated that she may enter as a candidate.
  • While appearing on MSNBC’s “The Cross Connection,” Sewell was asked about entering a race for the U.S. Senate, and Sewell didn’t deny interest. She just said she’s going to “look very closely at” the idea.

1. Coronavirus cases and vaccinations are moving in the right direction

  • Hospitalizations and cases of the coronavirus have fallen drastically in Alabama since a peak in January, with hospitalizations now down 69% from where they were at their highest last month. There are now under 900 hospitalized after January saw 3,084 at its highest point.
  • The Alabama Department of Public Health has also reported that 186,578 people in the state are fully vaccinated and 530,021 people have received the first dose of the vaccine. With this many people already receiving their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, 11% of the state has been vaccinated. But, it is worth noting that some sites are not taking additional appointments while vaccine supply is low.

5 days ago

VIDEO: Casinos could be added to gambling deal, a challenger enters the U.S. Senate race, GOP current civil war and more on Alabama Politics This Week …

Alabama Politics this Week

Radio talk show host Dale Jackson and Alabama Democratic Party Executive Committee member Lisa Handback take you through Alabama’s biggest political stories, including:

— Are casinos a possible addition to the gambling bill?

— Alabama has its first GOP candidate for the U.S. Senate seat that will be vacated by Richard Shelby in 2022.

— Are there any real winners in the current GOP civil war between former President Trump and Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY)?

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Jackson and Handback are joined by FM Talk 106.5’s Sean Sullivan to discuss the issues facing the state of Alabama this week.

Jackson closes the show with a “Parting Shot” at people who are celebrating the death of Rush Limbaugh.

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 AM weekdays on WVNN and on Talk 99.5 from 10AM to noon.

1 week ago

7 Things: Alabama fighting in court over prisons and representation, first GOP candidate for U.S. Senate seat announces, herd immunity might be close and more …

7. Ted Cruz under fire for vacation to Cancun

  • The state of Texas has seen a major energy crisis as they were impacted by severe winter weather, and Democrats have attacked U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) for going to Cancun during this time, and some have even called for him to resign.
  • When asked about the issue, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said their focus is working with those in Texas and surrounding states, and while she didn’t take a direct dig at Cruz, she said, “We expect that would be the focus of anyone in the state or in surrounding states who is elected to represent them.”

6. Effort to not let Trump be buried at Arlington

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  • Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives are seeking to prevent “twice impeached” Presidents of the United States from being laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery, which is just another attempt to display how much they despise President Donald Trump.
  • The bill is being called “No Glory for Hate Act” and would “prohibit the use of federal funds for the commemoration of certain former Presidents,” but specifically those who were impeached twice. It also prohibits funds being used to “create or display any symbol, monument, or statue commemorating” such a president.

5. Blocking funds from states that are still locked down

  • U.S. Representative Barry Moore (R-Enterprise) has announced his support for a bill that would prevent states from receiving coronavirus relief funds if they’re still on lockdown. Moore said, “Congress must stop bailing out states that implement burdensome restrictions on small businesses struggling to recover from the economic impact of COVID lockdowns.”
  • The bill would still allow states to receive funds from the Paycheck Protection Program and coronavirus testing. Some of the others cosponsoring the bill are U.S. Representatives Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Alex Mooney (R-WV), Matthew Rosendale, Sr. (R-MT) and Doug Lamborn (R-CO).

4. Herd immunity by April is possible

  • After almost a year of really bad news, there is reason to have some hope that the coronavirus pandemic is coming under control with new cases down 77% in six weeks, and we could be closer to herd immunity than many think, according to Dr. Makary, a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Bloomberg School of Public Health.
  • With 15% of Americans getting the vaccine and the focusing of that vaccine on the most vulnerable — coupled with speculation that there is some natural immunity for about 55% of Americans through previous mild infections — the media would argue this is all about masks, but that is just silly.

3. First U.S. Senate candidate announced

  • Businesswoman Lynda Blanchard, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump as the U.S. ambassador to Slovenia, has announced that she’ll be entering the U.S. Senate race in 2022 for U.S. Senator Richard Shelby’s (R-AL) seat.
  • Blanchard put out a video to announce her candidacy and she said she’s “a proud member of the MAGA movement.” She listed some of her top values as “free speech, the right to bear arms, religious freedom, the sanctity of life for all of God’s children – born and unborn, lower taxes, a secure border, the belief that America is the greatest nation the world has ever known.”

2. Alabama looking to dismiss the Department of Justice lawsuit

  • The Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against the State of Alabama for the unconstitutional conditions inside some of the men’s prisons, and now Alabama has filed a motion to have the lawsuit dismissed.
  • The argument to have the case dismissed is the conditions in the prison don’t actually reach unconstitutional standards. The attorney for Alabama has said that the Department of Justice “does not specifically allege that anyone associated with the state acted or failed to act in a manner that caused these alleged attacks.”

1. Biden wants to steal an Alabama U.S. House seat

  • On the same day the Biden administration announced plans to cut back on arrests and deportations by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the administration is arguing that the case brought by Alabama to keep illegal immigrants from being included in changing the congressional districts based on 2020 U.S. Census data should be dismissed.
  • They’re also arguing that the case should, at the very least, be stalled until Alabama knows if they’ll lose a congressional district after the Census Bureau released apportionment data. Attorneys said, “Alabama might well retain seven House seats regardless of whether undocumented immigrants are included in the apportionment base.”

1 week ago

7 Things: Severe weather continues impacting Alabama, Rush Limbaugh passes away, Merrill wants to restore the integrity of the election and more …

7. National Guard remains in D.C., but no known threat currently

  • Thousands of National Guard troops have been staying in Washington, D.C. since the riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, but now Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense & Global Security Robert Salesses has said that he’s “not aware of a threat that is out there.”
  • There are about 6,000 troops still in the area, when originally it was 25,000. Earlier in the week, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said, “Things are safe and secure right now.” Troops are scheduled to remain in Washington, D.C. until about mid-March.

6. Increasing the punishment for rioting and penalizing cities that defund police

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  • State Representative Allen Treadaway (R-Morris) will introduce a bill that would increase the penalty for rioting and inciting riots, as well as punish cities that defund police departments.
  • For rioters, the penalty would be “a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 days in jail and an order of restitution,” and those who incite a riot would face at least six months in jail “and an order of restitution.” Crimes against first responders would have increased penalties, and cities that defund police “would lose eligibility for any state funding, revenues, or other forms of aid.” Those who defund police “would become civilly-liable for any violent crime that result from the action.”

5. Teachers don’t have to be vaccinated to return to the classroom

  • White House press secretary Jen Psaki has finally confirmed what many health officials have already said: teachers don’t have to be vaccinated for the coronavirus to return for in-person class, but instead vaccination is a recommended “mitigation step.”
  • Psaki did confirm that President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris think that “teachers should be prioritized” in vaccinations. She also repeated that other recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, such as “social distancing and the need for smaller class sizes,” should also be followed.

4. Merrill to help restore faith in elections

  • A new commission that will work in partnership with the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) aims to restore “the American people’s confidence in the integrity of their free and fair elections.” Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill will be the co-chair of the commission.
  • The commission will work to determine the best practices in running elections and advise state officials. Merrill said that “every state in the nation should be working to assess and improve their respective election laws.” He added that they’re going to identify the best methods for elections “and make sure those are available for legislative bodies in the 50 states to consider as options.”

3. Rush Limbaugh has passed away

  • Conservative radio icon Rush Limbaugh has passed away at 70-years-old after fighting lung cancer. His passing was announced on his daily radio talk show by his wife, Kathryn Adams Limbaugh. The conservative talker was recognized by many in the media and politics for his influence. Former President George W. Bush noted, “He spoke his mind as a voice for millions.”
  • Governor Kay Ivey said Limbaugh’s “profound decades long career as a national voice for conservatives will be sincerely missed on the airwaves.” Many others including former President Donald Trump, U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), U.S. Representative Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville), U.S. Representative Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville), U.S. Representative Gary Palmer (R-Hoover), Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth, Attorney General Steve Marshall and more made statements recognizing his life and accomplishments.

2. Cowardly UAB professor tweets vile things about Rush Limbaugh, as does every other liberal

  • The people who have demanded “decency” and “unity” over the last five years continue to prove they mean nothing they say and were really just upset that former President Donald Trump stole their schtick as they dance on the grave of Rush Limbaugh. Major and minor figures took to newspapers, cable news and social media to gleefully report the news of Limbaugh’s death.
  • In Alabama, a professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham said in a now-deleted tweet, “When a terrible piece of scum who caused immeasurable harm to millions dies, there is no sympathy only a desire that they suffered until their last breath.” UAB President Ray Watts, rightly, issued a statement criticizing the lack of class. He stated, “UAB is disgusted and extremely troubled that Sarah Parcak would tweet something so unprofessional and blindly inhumane and cruel. Her poor judgment is completely counter to our shared values as an institution that includes integrity and respect. She absolutely does not speak for our university, and we are reviewing the matter.”

1. Severe weather continues to pound Alabama and the nation

  • Compared to how Texas and other states have handled the latest round of freezing cold, snow, ice and rain, Alabama is lucky, but the issues related to the weather event remain in the form of road closures, schools being canceled or delayed, courthouses seeing changed hours, and more.
  • The impact on vaccination sites across the state continues to be an issue getting a lot of attention, but many sites are still open in spite of the cold and severe weather.

1 week ago

7 Things: Trump targets McConnell and promises primaries against GOP, McConnell getting involved in the 2022 Alabama U.S. Senate race, Tuberville criticizes Biden’s immigration plans and more …

7. Frivolous lawsuit alleges ridiculous things about Trump, and the media loves it

  • The media and their Democrats are breathlessly reporting about a lawsuit that alleges former President Donald Trump conspired with two extremist groups to block the Electoral College vote count, without evidence or merit. The claim that they shared the same goal is laughable and ignores that the challenges to electors that Trump was suggesting are constitutional and have been used multiple times.
  • Trump adviser Jason Miller responded by noting, “President Trump did not plan, produce or organize the Jan. 6 rally on the Ellipse. President Trump did not incite or conspire to incite any violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6.”

6. Facebook expanding in Alabama, for now

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  • In Huntsville, the Facebook data center investment could end up exceeding $1 billion. An initial investment of $750 million was announced in 2018 with the construction of two buildings for the data center. Two buildings are going to be added to the original plans, but it’s still unclear how many jobs this will add.
  • But what if State Rep. Chip Brown (R-Hollinger’s Island) gets his way and his bill targeting social media companies were to pass? In HB 213, the “Anti-Censorship Act,” if a company engages in censorship of political speech, after already receiving economic incentives, it will be required to refund the incentives in their entirety.

5. Not all Amazon employees want a union

  • Much has been made of a unionization attempt at the Amazon facility in Bessemer, Alabama, but some employees are pushing back on the attempt. The mail-in balloting is happening right now and goes on until March 29.
  • Amazon employee Dawn Hoag says that those advocating for unionization are not being truthful about the conditions. She claims of rough working conditions and stories of some employees wearing adult diapers because they can’t get bathroom breaks are not true. Hoag also accurately criticized the media’s coverage of this issue as one-sided in favor of the union.

4. Biden wants to bring in 11 million immigrants

  • President Joe Biden has plans to grant citizenship to 11 million illegal immigrants, which has been confirmed by the White House. This would be for “undocumented immigrants living in the country” currently, according to press secretary Jen Psaki.
  • The full immigration plan could be released as soon as this week, but it’s already been made known that the pathway to citizenship would be over eight years. Included in the process would be five years to get a green card and three additional years to citizenship with background checks. Psaki has also reaffirmed Biden’s support of the DACA program.

3. Tuberville is remaining strong on border issues

  • In a letter to the Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) pressed the inconsistencies between coronavirus guidelines set out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the practices at the country’s southern border.
  • Tuberville said that how relaxed safety guidelines at the border have been “is both disturbing and discouraging” as U.S. citizens have gone through economic hardships through the pandemic and made sacrifices. Tuberville also focused on the new policies that “will undoubtedly weaken both border and national security.”

2. McConnell will likely get involved in the 2022 Alabama Senate race

  • Alabama native and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has indicated that he might get involved in the 2022 U.S. Senate race in Alabama and others across the country, according to the Wall Street Journal’s Siobhan Hughes. Many in Alabama still blame McConnell for former U.S. Senator Doug Jones’ (D-AL) election.
  • This is mostly after Democrats won both U.S. Senate seats in Georgia, which McConnell said “was a fiasco.” He added, “We all know why that occurred.” There’s already unnecessary speculation that U.S. Representative Mo Brooks’ (R-Huntsville) involvement in the rally for former President Donald Trump on January 6 will cause issues if he enters the U.S. Senate race.

1. Trump is going after McConnell

  • In a lengthy letter, former President Donald Trump went after U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and said that he’s “a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack.” Trump added that “if Republican Senators are going to stick with him, they will not win again.”
  • Trump also blamed McConnell for losing the majority in the Senate, saying it was due to his “dedication to business as usual, status quo policies, together with his lack of political insight, wisdom, skill, and personality.” He also asserted, “McConnell did nothing, and will never do what needs to be done in order to secure a fair and just electoral system into the future.”

1 week ago

7 Things: U.S. Capitol riot will be investigated after impeachment trial, severe weather impacts Alabama, Poarch Band of Creek Indians see room for changes to gambling bill and more …

7. Democrats plan a big immigration push

  • A suffering economy and global pandemic are not going to slow Democrats in Washington, D.C. as they work for more open borders, let people in without COVID-19 tests, and push to change the country’s immigration laws.
  • President Joe Biden’s “U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021” will include plans to legalize farm workers and Dreamers right away, includes an earned pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants, expands the refugee resettlement program, and includes new technology at the border, but many question that last part.

6. Cuomo is collapsing

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  • New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) has avoided apologizing for his improper decision-making in the coronavirus pandemic, especially in relation to nursing homes and delaying reporting data. Instead, Cuomo said they “made a mistake in creating the void” that allowed for “conspiracy theories.”
  • Cuomo said that the “mistake” was “creating the void when we didn’t provide information, it allowed press people, cynics, politicians to fill a void.” Cuomo’s top aid has even told legislators that they didn’t provide proper information over concerns that “it was going to be used against us.”

5. No vaccine requirement in Alabama

  • Alabama State Rep. Ritchie Whorton (R-Owens Cross Roads) is looking to limit the power of local and state government authorities to mandate vaccinations, a move some feel is necessary as questions remain about the power of these entities in Alabama.
  • Citing concerns about the expedited vaccine production with the COVID-19 vaccine, Whorton stated, “[W]hat I’m trying to do is say, ‘Hey, you can’t mandate this vaccine. As a free society, I think it is up to the individual to have the right to choose, and that’s what the bill is.”

4. Shelby is now the longest-serving on banking committee

  • Of all the committee appointments that U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) has received, he is now the longest-serving senator in United States history to be on the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.  
  • Shelby is also still serving as a member of the Committee on Appropriations, Committee on Environment and Public Works, and the Committee on Rules and Administration. Shelby said that his “committee assignments for the next Congress will bolster my work on behalf of the state of Alabama and the nation.”

3. Alabama lottery bill considered good but needs minor changes

  • State Senator Del Marsh (R-Anniston) is working to pass a lottery, gambling and sports betting bill in the Alabama Legislature, and Poarch Band of Creek Indians (PCI) government relations advisor Robbie McGhee has weighed in on the legislation, overall saying that he’s “just happy Senator Marsh was able to do this.”
  • McGhee also said that this is a “good attempt” at finding the right “gaming culture that works best for the state,” but he added that “there are some minor changes, things like that probably need to be worked out.”

2. Vaccination sites all over the state will see more closures and delays today

  • All over Alabama, county health departments will either be delayed or closed due to winter weather conditions that will impact daily life, power and roadways.
  • The closing of these sites on Monday and Tuesday has delayed the rollout of vaccination doses and individuals with scheduled appointments. Some sites will work the missed appointments in over the next two weeks; some will move to Saturday, but it will vary from site to site. Each person should check on their injection site’s plans.

1. Should have investigated the riot prior to the failed impeachment

  • There will be an investigation into the riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has announced the investigation and said that she has plans for a “9/11-type commission” for the investigation.
  • Pelosi added that this will be meant to “investigate and report the facts and causes relating to the January 6, 2021 domestic terrorist attack upon the United States Capitol Complex.”

2 weeks ago

7 Things: Impeachment fails again, severe weather shuts down parts of the state and some vaccine distribution, Ivey signs bill related to the coronavirus pandemic and more …

7. Borders open but interstate travel could be limited

  • President Joe Biden has reportedly been considering domestic travel bans for Florida, but Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) said that this “a huge contradiction.” DeSantis pointed to how Biden wants to ban travel from Florida due to the pandemic but signs executive orders on immigration.
  • DeSantis said that “you can’t square wanting open borders for illegal aliens, but then also restricting U.S. citizens from basically traveling around the country as they see fit.” He added this travel ban would be “unconstitutional” and “a political attack against Florida.”

6. Biden’s gun control repeats Obama’s failed ideas

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  • President Joe Biden, while recognizing the three-year anniversary of the Parkland school shooting that killed 17 people, took the opportunity to push for more gun control through Congress.
  • Biden called for “commonsense gun law reforms,” which would be in the form of background checks and “banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and eliminating immunity for gun manufactures who knowingly put weapons of war on our streets.”

5. John Merrill senate announcement coming in April

  • With U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) announcing that he’s not running for reelection in 2022, candidates are expected to be announcing soon, and now Secretary of State John Merrill has given a timeline on when he’ll announce. 
  • Merrill appeared on Alabama Public Television’s “Capitol Journal” where he was asked about a possible U.S. Senate campaign, to which he said he’s “considering it.” Merrill added that his formal announcement will be made “the first or second week of April” about whether he’s running.

4. Ivey signs three priority bills

  • Governor Kay Ivey has signed three bills into law that she said were a priority for this legislative session. One of the bills signed will prevent stimulus payments from the federal government from being subject to income tax.
  • The bill that protects businesses, churches, health care providers, schools and other entities from frivolous lawsuits related to the coronavirus was also signed by Ivey. Lastly, she signed a bill that assists in job creation through the Alabama Jobs Act and Growing Alabama Act.

3. State of emergency issued by Ivey

  • Twenty-eight counties will now be under a state of emergency that was issued by Governor Kay Ivey for the winter storm moving through portions of the state. Ivey’s office stated that this is a “precautionary measure” in the event that areas of the state are “severely impacted due to freezing weather.”
  • This emergency order is for Bibb, Blount, Choctaw, Colbert, Cullman, DeKalb, Fayette, Franklin, Greene, Hale, Jackson, Jefferson, Lamar, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone, Madison, Marengo, Marion, Marshall, Morgan, Perry, Pickens, Shelby, Sumter, Tuscaloosa, Walker and Winston Counties.

2. Vaccine clinics closing due to winter weather

  • Due to the threat of winter weather across many parts of Alabama, some hospitals have decided to close their coronavirus vaccination clinics and are rescheduling all appointments. The remote vaccine site in Tuscaloosa through DCH Health System is closed for Monday.
  • The Huntsville Hospital Community Clinic at John Hunt Park, Athens-Limestone Hospital, Cullman Regional Medical Center and the UAB vaccination sites at Parker High School and Hoover Met will be closed, as well.

1. Trump acquitted; Tuberville and Shelby vote to acquit

  • In the second U.S. Senate impeachment trial against former President Donald Trump, the final vote was 57-43 to convict him, but with 67 “guilty” votes needed, this resulted in another acquittal
  • Both U.S. Senators Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) voted to acquit Trump. Shelby stated that the process is meant for a “sitting President, not a private citizen” and Tuberville brought up “concerns with the lack of due process and constitutionality of this trial going in.”

2 weeks ago

VIDEO: Gambling looks like it has a real chance this year in the Alabama Legislature, Shelby’s retirement could open some doors, impeachment hearings drag on and more on Alabama Politics This Week …

Radio talk show host Dale Jackson and Alabama Democratic Party Executive Committee member Lisa Handback take you through Alabama’s biggest political stories, including:

— Does the gambling bill proposed by State Senator Del Marsh (R-Anniston) have real legs?

— Are there any Democrats with a chance to beat Republicans for the Senate seat held by the retiring U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL)?

— Is there any value to the impeachment hearings, or was this all decided before it started?

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Jackson and Handback are joined by Talk 99.5’s Matt Murphy to discuss the issues facing the state of Alabama this week.

Jackson closes the show with a “Parting Shot” at people who don’t see that most of the things President Joe Biden has done so far are for appearances’ sake rather than real actions.

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 AM weekdays on WVNN and on Talk 99.5 from 10AM to noon.

2 weeks ago

7 Things: Impeachment trial wrapping up, Fauci says ‘open season’ on vaccines in April, more casinos possible in Marsh’s gambling proposal and more …

7. Alcohol delivery is one step closer

  • The Alabama Senate has passed the bill that would legalize home delivery of alcohol through grocery delivery services and other approved retailers. 
  • A companion bill has already been approved by the House Judiciary Committee. Now it just has to pass a vote by the House. Amendments to increase the amount of alcohol allowed and requiring background checks for those who deliver the alcohol were also added to the bill. 

6. Biden administration now wants a travel ban on … Florida?

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  • When then-President Donald Trump started implementing a travel ban on China and Europe, now-President Joe Biden called them “racist” and “xenophobic,” but now he has people in his orbit suggesting a travel ban to Florida after a COVID-19 mutation was found in the state.
  • The domestic travel ban would include California and some other states, but it would be impossible to enforce and be unconstitutional. After criticism from Florida, the Biden administration backed down from the plan saying that “no specific decisions are under consideration.”

5. Cuomo’s executive order killed thousands, and he got an Emmy for it

  • Award-winning New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) is finally facing scrutiny from his allies in the media for a decision he made earlier on in the pandemic to return 9,056 actively sick individuals to nursing homes, which led to the deaths of thousands in those facilities. A Cuomo aide now says the governor hid this information from the public and the Department of Justice.
  • The brother of CNN’s Chris Cuomo has been treated as a superstar during the coronavirus pandemic, but he made this decision in spite of options on the table that could have been used. This includes New York City’s Jacob Javits Convention Center, which had been set up as a makeshift hospital and the USS Comfort military hospital ship that was sent to the city. 

4. Alabama Legislature approves protection for businesses

  • The bill that would provide businesses with protection against frivolous lawsuits related to the coronavirus pandemic is going to Governor Kay Ivey’s desk to be signed after it was passed by the legislature on Thursday.
  • In addition to businesses, schools, churches and health care providers would be protected. This doesn’t protect businesses that are negligent. Ivey has previously said this was a top priority. 

3.  More casinos possible under State Sen. Del Marsh’s gambling proposal

  • It appears that most of the discussion in the Alabama Legislature surrounding the gambling proposal by State Senator Del Marsh (R-Anniston) is predicated on creating more opportunities for gambling rather than opposing the bill outright. Marsh says he is open to a state gaming commission that could approve two additional casinos.
  • The proposal as is could generate $454 million to $672 million tax revenue. This includes $194 million to $279 million from lottery, $260 million to $393 million from casinos. Casinos would pay a 20% tax earnings plus various licensing fees.

2. Vaccines for everyone by April

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci has said that “open season” for coronavirus vaccines being available to everyone should happen by April. He’s said this will be possible because of supply increasing over the next couple of months. 
  • Fauci added that delivery of all these vaccines will actually take “several more months,” but he is predicting herd immunity by late summer. 

1. Democrats done, GOP offer defense as impeachment trial nears end

  • In the U.S. Senate impeachment trial against former President Donald Trump, Democrats have rested their case, but impeachment managers did so by bringing up statements from those who rioted at the U.S. Capitol. One rioter was on video at the Capitol yelling, “We were invited by the president of the United States.” Oher video had rioters saying, “We’re fighting for Trump!” and, “He’ll be happy.”
  • The case laid out by Democrats does not prove Trump incited violence. It relies on emotions provoked by vivid imagery, so there will not be a conviction. U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) stated, “I think they did a good job. I don’t believe the facts are largely in dispute about what happened that day. He added, “[T]he fundamental question for me, and I don’t know about everybody else, is whether an impeachment trial is appropriate for someone who is no longer in office.”

2 weeks ago

7 Things: Biden not paying attention to impeachment, gambling legislation ready for a vote on the Alabama Senate floor, COVID-19 liability protection has bipartisan support and more …

7. Alabama AG wants Biden to reverse the Keystone XL Pipeline decision

  • Fourteen state attorney generals, including Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall (R-AL), have sent a letter to President Joe Biden to notify him that states are reviewing legal options to protect the interests of their citizens and urges him to reverse his decision with the Keystone XL Pipeline.
  • The letter says that Biden’s “decision will result in devastating damage to many of our states and local communities. Even those states outside the path of the Keystone XL Pipeline … will suffer serious, detrimental consequences.”

6. Banning hormone therapy for minors

  • A bill by State Representative Wes Allen (R-Troy) would ban doctors from providing hormone blockers, hormonal therapy or surgery that would help them transition from male to female or female to male when they’re underage.
  • If the bill were to become law and any doctors violated the law, they could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison. The legislation says that such treatments are a “public health risk,” and the main argument is that gender reassignment should be decided in adulthood.
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5. Alabama receives an ‘A’ in election integrity

  • The Concerned Women for America have graded all of the states on election integrity, and Alabama was the only state to receive an “A.” The criteria is absentee ballot verification, absentee ballots, voter identification and ballot harvesting.
  • Most states received less than 50%, earning themselves an “F” grade. Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill said he will “continue working with our Legislature to advocate for an even more secure and efficient elections process.”

4. Controversy over the national anthem

  • As the NBA smacked down Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban for declaring he won’t play the national anthem before games, the Alabama State Senate Committee on Education Policy met to discuss the bill that would require schools across the state to play the national anthem at least once a week. The bill sponsored by State Senator Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa) has been proposed as a constitutional amendment.
  • Allen said that this “is about patriotism,” but State Senators Vivian Figures (D-Mobile) and Roger Smitherman (D-Birmingham) want to channel Colin Kaepernick and pretend the national anthem offends them. The senators’ objection is about the third verse of the song, which is never sung, because it references slaves.

3. Protection for businesses advances

  • The bill that would protect businesses from frivolous lawsuits related to the coronavirus pandemic has been advanced to the Alabama House floor. It passed the Alabama Senate last week, and yesterday it was passed through the House Judiciary Committee.
  • Businesses that engage in misconduct wouldn’t be protected under this legislation, which seems to baffle some legislators and the media, but State Representative David Faulkner (R-Mountain Brook) spoke in favor of the bill and pointed out that it’s specifically stated that a lawsuit can still be brought if the company “caused damages, injury, or death by acting with wanton, reckless, willful, or intentional misconduct.”

2. Gambling bill is about to get a big vote on the Senate floor

  • State Senator Del Marsh’s (R-Anniston) gaming and lottery bill has passed the Alabama Senate Tourism Committee. The bill would legalize sports betting, casinos and the lottery. The bill is expected to be debated on the Senate floor today.
  • It’s estimated that if the bill becomes law, it could generate $475-$698 million per year. Revenue from the lottery would be used for education scholarships. Marsh does anticipate “changes” to the bill before it’s put up for a vote on the Senate floor, specifically some of the plans that state where five casinos would be built.

1. Not even Joe Biden is watching this impeachment nonsense

  • The media is obsessed with its own impeachment coverage, but President Joe Biden is not. White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters, after seven questions about impeachment, “He’s not going to opine on the back-and-forth arguments, nor is he watching them, that are taking place in the Senate.”
  • But, the impeachment trial against former President Donald Trump is underway and impeachment managers keep telling us how horrible that day was and showing us videos of it. They are right, but they also seem to think that Trump incited the crowd on January 6 by telling them to “fight like hell.” The impeachment managers also said the riot was “foreseeable,” “premeditated” and “well-orchestrated” but on that, they are clearly wrong.

2 weeks ago

7 Things: Senate rules impeachment of past president constitutional, Marsh’s lottery plan includes casinos for current players, GOP says it will hold Shelby’s seat and more …

7. WHO says coronavirus didn’t come from a lab — China agrees

  • According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the coronavirus didn’t come from a lab in Wuhan, China. Instead, the team investigating the origins of the coronavirus thinks it’s more likely that the virus came from an animal.
  • Members of the WHO spent four weeks in Wuhan, and the leader of the mission, Peter Ben Embarek, said that this didn’t change the understanding of the virus, but it “added details to that story.” Embarek added that “the laboratory incidents hypothesis is extremely unlikely to explain the introduction of the virus to the human population.”

6. Offering more to police officers, firefighters and more first responders

  • Legislation has passed through the State House of Representatives that would have cities and counties reimburse police officers and firefighters for their post-traumatic stress disorder (PTDS) treatments, specifically their insurance co-payments.
  • The bill sponsored by State Representative Matt Simpson (R-Daphne) would also set up disability payments for those who are unable to work due to PTSD. This legislation passed in a 98-0 vote.
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5. Biden’s focus on white nationalism in the U.S. military is for show

  • Much like the Biden administration’s decision to kill the Keystone XL Pipeline, their decision to have the entire military “stand down” while they attempt to root out extremism is bound to find very few instances is extremism in the ranks for obvious reasons. Administration officials know this and have told The Hill that they don’t expect a large number of extremist members to be revealed, saying, “[T]here’s a limit to what we’re going to be able to obtain.”
  • The main issues with the clearly political move are that there are already programs in place to punish and separate individuals associated with extremists and the reality that there is not a real issue of rampant extremism in the ranks of active duty or veterans as a whole. In 2019, there were 68 domestic terrorism investigations that involved active or former members of the military out of the 1.3 million on active duty and 18 million veterans.

4. Biden administration standards for open schools are ridiculous

  • President Joe Biden’s administration has maintained that they want to have most schools for in-person classes within the first 100 days of office, but now there have been more details explained on what an “open school” actually means.
  • During a press conference, White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked what their definition of an “open school” is, and Psaki clarified that Biden just wants at least a “majority of schools” reopened in the first 100 days. She advised they’ll consider schools operating on “at least one day a week” in-person as an “open school.” It’s already been recommended that at least K-8 schools could reopen safely without teachers being vaccinated.

3. Senator Rick Scott: Shelby’s seat will stay red

  • U.S. Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) has said that U.S. Senator Richard Shelby’s (R-AL) seat will stay Republican, even though Shelby has announced he won’t be running for reelection in 2022. 
  • Scott described Shelby as a “lion of the Senate,” and he emphasized that with Democrats holding the majority in the U.S. Senate, “the people of Alabama will demand Senator Shelby’s successor uphold the same conservative principles that became his trademark.”

2. Lottery, sports betting and a special interests protection setup for casinos

  • State Senator Del Marsh (R-Anniston) has proposed his lottery bill that would allow for five casinos located in Birmingham, Mobile, Greene County, Macon County, and either Jackson or Dekalb Counties; the latter facility would be run by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.
  • The legislation is a constitutional amendment, so it not only has to pass through the legislature but also has to be approved by voters in Alabama. Sports betting would also be allowed at the casinos. The bill will be considered today by the Senate Tourism Committee.

1. Impeachment trial ruled constitutional

  • The U.S. Senate has decided to move forward with the impeachment trial against former President Donald Trump after a 56-44 vote ruled that the trial is constitutional. Six Republicans voted with Democrats to move forward with the process. U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) previously supported U.S. Senator Rand Paul’s (R-KY) motion that the impeachment is unconstitutional, but he said Tuesday, “House managers had much stronger constitutional arguments. The president’s team did not.”
  • Even with Cassidy’s vote, there is still no chance Democrats will be able to get a conviction of the former president. It seems rather obvious that the audience for this trial is not the 100 senators in the room, but rather the people who are watching at home and listening to those who are commentating on the events of the day as House impeachment managers play clips from the January 6 rally and the riot that followed.

2 weeks ago

7 Things: Shelby confirms he’s retiring in 2022, impeachment silliness begins again, vaccinations ramping up while coronavirus numbers in Alabama go way down and more …

7. Years of questioning election results may be having an impact

  • The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research has released polling data that shows only 16% of Americans believe democracy is working well, while 38% say it’s working somewhat well. 
  • Although, 45% of Americans say democracy isn’t working in the country. This comes after major disputes over the most recent national election results and now with former President Donald Trump facing a second impeachment trial. 

6. Paying the college players

  • A bill by State Representative Kirk Hatcher (D-Montgomery) would allow all college athletes in the state to profit off the use of their name, image and likeness. 
  • Hatcher pointed out how these athletes already “help generate millions of dollars for athletic programs.” This would also allow athletes to hire representation, but schools wouldn’t be able to pay students outside of currently allowed stipends and scholarships.  
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5. Nearly half of a congressional district would get a raise with a $15 minimum wage

  • U.S. Representative Terri Sewell (D-Birmingham) has previously supported regional increases in minimum wage based on the cost of living. Now, the debate over raising the minimum wage to $15 is back. In Sewell’s district, 43% of workers would receive a pay raise if the minimum wage increased to $15, according to the Economic Policy Institute. This would average out to a 22% increase for those workers, or $4,700 per year. 
  • The Congressional Budget Office’s newest numbers on the minimum wage indicate that a $15 minimum wage would add $54 billion to the deficit while lifting 900,000 people out of poverty. It will also put 1.4 million people out of work. The Washington Post has declared the rosy picture painted by the Biden administration on this matter requires “significant omissions and/or exaggerations” and explained that those impacted by job losses the most will be the young and less-educated.

4. Vaccinations are now magically going well

  • President Joe Biden said that a goal of his administration was to get 100 million coronavirus vaccinations across the country in his first 100 days in office, which the country was already on track for before he took office. 
  • Now, after less than a month in office, the country is on track to miraculously exceed those expectations in Biden’s first 100 days.  Despite reports that the country was already on track for what’s happening now, Biden claims that “we were short on vaccines and short on organization” when he took office. 

3. New COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations continue to plummet

  • The number of new coronavirus cases in Alabama, and the United States as a whole, continue to drop with the U.S. number of cases as low as they were on October 27, 2020. Hospitalizations have dropped 10% or more in the last week in at least 38 states.
  • Alabama is one of those states seeing a massive decline in hospitalization and new cases. The 715 cases yesterday is the fewest since October 12, and the statewide COVID-19 hospitalization rates are down almost 50% in the last month with 1,551 hospitalized Saturday compared to January 8, which saw 3,014 people hospitalized.

2. Impeachment charade begins

  • With 45 Senate Republicans already declaring the entire impeachment process illegitimate and unconstitutional, the final outcome of this farce is all but determined. But the media and their Democrats will spend hours over the next week or so pretending the former President of the United States incited an insurrection and will be found guilty if only they find some smoking gun that exposes his culpability. 
  • Democrats will use video of the riots themselves to pretend President Donald Trump willed them to happen intentionally, with no evidence, while Republicans will point out that the rhetoric used by Trump and his allies is commonly-used protected speech and that members of the Democratic Party have called for violence and defended violence with impunity for years.

1. Shelby has confirmed he’s retiring

  • Early reporting suggested that U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) wouldn’t be running for re-election in 2022, and now Shelby has confirmed these rumors after holding his office since 1986. Shelby is Alabama’s longest-serving senator. In announcing that he’ll retire in 2023, Shelby said, “For everything, there is a season.”
  • Former U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) noted that this decision is a “significant moment in Alabama history.” He added, “No one in the history of the Senate or Congress has delivered more financial benefits for Alabama than Senator Shelby. His work has been of monumental importance. The good news is that he will continue to serve and work for us for another two years as the top, ranking Republican on the extremely important Appropriations Committee. There he is critically positioned to protect Alabama interests.”

3 weeks ago

7 Things: Shelby ‘announcement forthcoming in the next few weeks,’ this could be medical marijuana’s year, long-shot impeachment could be weaponized and more …

7. Auburn resuming full on-campus operations

  • Auburn University has decided to start all in-class instruction on campus. The school is ending remote options for classes, and a majority of employees are also returning to work on campus.
  • This decision was made somewhat because of the low number of coronavirus cases on campus, with only a 0.9% positivity rate for those tested and 75 cases the week of January 31. University medical clinic Director Dr. Fred Kam also said that “vulnerable” employees are going to continue working remotely.

6. Get kids back in school

  • As many health officials have already recommended, Dr. Anthony Fauci said that students can return to in-person classes — at least those in middle school and lower. He reasoned that age group doesn’t transmit the coronavirus “as readily.”
  • Fauci was only hesitant on supporting high schoolers returning to the classroom. Centers for Disease Control Director Rochelle Walensky has also supported reopening schools and recently said that “there is increasing data suggesting schools can safely reopen.” She added that a “safe reopening” doesn’t require for teachers to be vaccinated.
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5. Brooks reappointed to Armed Services Committee

  • U.S. Representative Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) has been reappointed to the House Armed Services Committee, the subcommittee for Strategic Forces, while also being appointed to Cyber, Innovative, Technologies, and Information Systems subcommittee.
  • Brooks said that while on the committee, he’ll “continue using my growing seniority to both protect America’s national security interest and promote Redstone Arsenal and the groundbreaking research and development work we do in the Tennessee Valley.” Also appointed to the House Armed Services Committee from Alabama were U.S. Representatives Jerry Carl (R-Enterprise) and Mike Rogers (R-Saks).

4. Skilled labor still needed in Alabama

  • The coronavirus pandemic has put many people out of work in Alabama, but Secretary of Labor Fitzgerald Washington has said that there are still jobs available in skilled labor. He specifically pointed out where there’s been job creation in utility, transportation and hospitality.
  • Washington added that they’re trying to cut down on unemployment numbers, so the “administration has been working tirelessly to make sure we continue our recruitment efforts to bring new industry to the state, as well as help existing companies expand operations.”

3. Impeachment could become a political weapon

  • U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) spoke about the Senate impeachment trial against President Donald Trump, which is starting this week, and said that under the standards that Trump has been impeached, “we ought to impeach Chuck Schumer then.”
  • Paul pointed out times that Schumer has used “inflammatory wording.” He’s also focused on how the impeachment is unconstitutional, pointing out how U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts rejected presiding over the trial in the Senate.

2. This could be the year for medical marijuana

  • The medical marijuana bill by State Senator Tim Melson (R-Florence) has already received favor from the Senate Judiciary Committee, but will likely face challenges in the House of Representatives, where State Representative Mike Ball (R-Madison) will carry the bill.
  • Ball has said that he believes “this is the year” the legislation will pass. He also said that the “opposition” to legalizing medical marijuana is “fear-based.” Ball has emphasized that the purpose of this legislation is utilizing the medical purposes of marijuana, not a secret effort to legalize recreational marijuana.

1. Shelby likely won’t run for reelection

  • It’s expected that U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) likely won’t run for reelection in 2022, according to a recent report from the Associated Press. Shelby is currently serving his sixth term.
  • Shelby hasn’t confirmed these reports, and his spokeswoman Blair Taylor said that “there will likely be an announcement forthcoming in the next few weeks.” With AP’s report, there’s now speculation on who will run for Shelby’s seat in the midterms, should he ultimately make the decision to retire.

3 weeks ago

VIDEO: Ivey’s prison plan draws complaints, modifications to Alabama Memorial Preservation Act possible, legalization of all sorts of vices on the table and more on Alabama Politics This Week …

Radio talk show host Dale Jackson and Alabama Democratic Party Executive Committee member Lisa Handback take you through Alabama’s biggest political stories, including:

— Can anyone stop, and will anyone try to stop, Governor Kay Ivey’s prison plan?

— Will the Alabama Legislature really make it more expensive to remove Confederate monuments?

— Is Alabama on the path to legalizing gambling, marijuana and the home delivery of alcohol?

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Jackson and Handback are joined by Mobile FM Talk 106.5’s Jeff Poor to discuss the issues facing the state of Alabama this week.

Jackson closes the show with a “Parting Shot” at members of the legislature who may balk at passing coronavirus liability protection this session when it is required to get our economy fully reopened.

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 AM weekdays on WVNN and on Talk 99.5 from 10AM to noon.

3 weeks ago

7 Things: $1.9 trillion in coronavirus stimulus moves forward, Trump was never going to testify, McCutcheon has a backup prison plan and more …

7. Joe Biden is just “not Trump”

  • President Joe Biden continues to wake up and think, “What would Trump do?” and then do the exact opposite. On Thursday, he announced that he will raise the cap on refugees we allow to enter the country in the middle of a global pandemic.
  • Biden is not offering just a token increase here either. He is taking former President Donald Trump’s 15,000 this year, the lowest since the creation of the Refugee Act, and increasing it to 125,000 in the next fiscal year.

6. Colorado wants Biden to punish Alabama

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  • Colorado Governor Jared Polis (D) is still pushing for President Joe Biden to reverse the decision to move the U.S. Space Command to Huntsville and has argued that space command can better serve the country by staying at Peterson Air Force Base.
  • Polis sent a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin requesting that the decision to move U.S. Space Command be reviewed. Officials in Colorado have tried to say that the decision was political, despite the Air Force continuing to insist that Redstone Arsenal is the best location.

5. Democrats take an unprecedented step, talk of “norms” disappears

  • The U.S. House of Representatives voted 230-199 to remove U.S. Representative Marjorie Taylor Green (R-GA) from her two assignments on the education and budget committees, limiting her ability to participate in the legislative process. This comes even after she offered public apologies for previous comments.
  • The moves are important as they show Democrats are willing to use their power as the majority to remove political opponents, and that could be a very dangerous weapon when used in this way both now and in the future. Every Alabama Republican legislator voted to keep Greene on her committees. Representative Terri Sewell (D-Birmingham) voted to remove her.

4. Protection for businesses passes

  • The bill brought forward by State Senator Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) that would protect businesses in Alabama from frivolous lawsuits related to the coronavirus pandemic has passed in a 28-1 vote in the Senate. State Senator Vivian Figures (D-Mobile) was the only “no” vote.
  • This legislation doesn’t protect businesses entirely. Lawsuits for “wanton, reckless, willful, or intentional misconduct” would still be allowed. Orr says that this just protects “good actors.”

3. Apparently there’s a backup prison plan

  • After Governor Kay Ivey has signed a contract to build new prisons in Alabama, House Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) said the House is working on a backup plan to build new prisons that would be owned by the state.
  • McCutcheon said that they need “some information on the lease agreements” for the prisons that Ivey has contracted. He went on to say that the House plan “would be a state bond issue where the state would actually own the facilities,” but he added that they’re also moving carefully due to the lawsuit brought against the state by the U.S. Department of Justice.

2. Trump is being called to testify

  • The impeachment trial for former President Donald Trump is set to begin the week of February 8, and now U.S. Representative Jamie Raskin (D-MD), the lead impeachment manager, is requesting Trump to testify under oath at the trial.
  • Raskin sent a letter to Trump and his legal team saying that he’s being asked to testify due to his “disputing of these factual allegations,” arguing that Trump’s defense goes against “incontrovertible facts.” The request is that Trump faces cross-examination and testify by February 11. Trump senior advisor Jason Miller has confirmed, though, that Trump won’t be testifying at the trial.

1. $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill clears huge hurdle

  • Vice President Kamala Harris cast the tie-breaking vote that allowed Democrats to move forward with their massive coronavirus stimulus plan without the necessary 60 votes to overcome a filibuster if Democrats stay united. The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to agree today, clearing the bill for final passage and President Biden’s signature.
  • While Democrats moved their bill and are prepared to enact it with a simple majority, Republicans picked up a couple of wins along the way such as GOP amendments that blocked illegal aliens from receiving stimulus checks, voiced opposition to the ending of the Keystone XL pipeline, and bans on fracking. In a strange moment, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) helped strip a $15 minimum wage provision from the bill.

3 weeks ago

7 Things: Alabama’s coronavirus liability protection bill key to full reopening, CDC says open up those schools, weed and alcohol bills move forward and more …

7. Coronavirus is fading; Experts are baffled

  • New COVID-19 infections are down 45% in the United States and 30% around the world in the last few weeks. But, experts with the World Health Organization are confused about the “phenomenon” and say vaccines are not the main reason.
  • But it really isn’t all that baffling. Other coronavirus trends followed a similar path. Vaccinations, which have targeted the most vulnerable, are taking place. Limiting the number of elderly that can be impacted and natural immunity from the virus being more widespread than we thought seem to be playing a role in the numbers going down.

6. MTG apologizes and will still be removed from her committees

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  • House Republicans met yesterday to decide the fate of two “controversial” figures, U.S. Representatives Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA). While both survived challenges to their respective positions, Greene is hardly out of the woods.
  • The larger U.S. House, controlled by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), has made it pretty clear that they will vote to remove her from her committee assignments. Meanwhile, the media and their Democrats will continue to imply that all Republicans agree with this one random congresswoman on all things at all times.

5. Biden’s approval rating below 50%

  • President Joe Biden has been in office for a couple of weeks, and a new Quinnipiac University survey shows that Biden’s approval rating is at 49% while 36% disapprove of his job performance thus far.
  • On Biden’s Inauguration Day, his approval rating was at 54% and disapproval was at 36%, which was the average from national polling. By comparison, when President Barack Obama was sworn in in 2009, his approval rating was in the 60s.

4. Get your alcohol delivered

  • The bill sponsored by State Senator Jabo Waggoner (R-Vestavia) that would allow the delivery of beer, wine and liquor to residences has been approved by the Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee.
  • The Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board would be in charge of licenses for those who would be approved to deliver alcohol, and there would be limits on amounts for delivery. Alcohol delivery is already legal in about 20 states.

3. Medical marijuana getting hashed out

  • State Representative Tim Melson’s (R-Florence) bill, the Compassion Act, has been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee. This bill would legalize medical marijuana in some forms.
  • In 2020, the same bill was approved by the State Senate, but soon after, the legislature was shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. The bill has specific conditions that qualify people for medical marijuana, and it’s only in the capsule, oil, topical, suppository or lozenge form.

2. Schools can reopen without teachers being vaccinated

  • Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the CDC, has said that schools across the country can reopen without teachers being vaccinated. This directly goes against what teachers’ unions have been arguing for, which is demanding that schools not return to in-person instruction until all teachers are vaccinated against the coronavirus.
  • Walensky said that vaccination isn’t a “prerequisite” for getting kids back into the classroom safely. Instead, she said it’s more important for masks and social distancing to be the focus. President Joe Biden has said that he’ll get schools reopened within his first 100 days in office.

1. Coronavirus liability protection is a big bill this legislative session

  • State Senator Arthur Orr’s (R-Decatur) bill that would protect businesses from frivolous lawsuits related to the coronavirus pandemic has been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee in a 9-2 vote.
  • The bill doesn’t protect businesses that engage in “wanton, reckless, willful, or intentional misconduct,” but Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro) explained that he’s concerned that this legislation could also protect some “bad actors” instead of just the “good actors.”

3 weeks ago

7 Things: Governor Ivey’s State of the State, Alabama vaccination website finally launched, Democrats make case for impeachment and more …

7. Manchin doesn’t support a $15 minimum wage

  • U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) won’t support a $15 minimum wage, but instead said that he’d be more in favor closer to $11 because that makes sense for his state. He said he’s “supportive of basically having something that’s responsible and reasonable.”
  • It’s expected for a minimum wage increase to $15 will be included in the next coronavirus relief package, but Democrats need all the party support they can get for the legislation in the Senate. Manchin has buckled under the pressure of the next $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package and said he’d support passing the legislation through reconciliation.

6. Former Alabama Senate pro tem steps down but readies for gambling pitch

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  • State Senator Del Marsh (R-Anniston) decided to step down as pro tem and State Senator Greg Reed (R-Jasper) was elected as the next president pro tempore, which is the highest-ranking position for a senator in the body, but Marsh has made it clear he is not done.
  • Marsh says he will spend the next two years focusing on legislation he feels needs to be passed, so he has stated he will push for a constitutional amendment on a lottery and gambling that will create revenue to support college scholarships and expanded broadband access.

5. Alabama Legislature has its first coronavirus case

  • Last year saw a truncated legislative session because of the coronavirus, but there will be an attempt to have a more normal session with testing, safety precautions and built-in breaks every couple of weeks to reassess the situation. The precautions in place seem to be working, as one legislator was sent home.
  • House Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) said, “You’ve made a sacrifice to come here.” He added, “[M]any of us have health risks. Many of your family members have health risks. You’re here, and we have business to take care of, and we will take care of that business.”

4. Biden signs for more immigration policy changes

  • Governing through executive order, President Joe Biden signed three more orders that relate to immigration and reverse more of President Donald Trump’s policies. Through this, Biden is also creating a program to reunite families separated at the border.
  • Biden claims that he’s “not making new law” but instead just “eliminating bad policy.” The other orders Biden signed will be to address “irregular migration.” He’s also trying to “streamline” the citizenship process and reviewing policies from the Trump presidency.

3. Democrats lay out case for impeachment

  • With former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment right around the corner, House Democrats believe their best case for conviction is to accuse Trump of putting the lives of members of Congress in danger by aiming a mob at them “like a loaded cannon.”
  • Trump’s defense attorneys say he did not incite the riot and was merely suggesting that his supporters “fight like hell” to dispute the results of the election and that he was speaking about Joe Biden’s “suspect” win. They say his argument was about “election security in general” and meant to push members to challenge certain states “under a process written into Congressional rules,” as has happened in the past.

2. Website for vaccine appointments launched

  • To alleviate pressure from the coronavirus vaccine hotline, the Alabama Department of Public Health has opened a new website where people can schedule appointments to get the coronavirus vaccine and check their eligibility.
  • Beginning on February 8, those who are 65-years-old and older will be able to get the vaccine; this expansion of eligibility also includes more frontline workers. Recently, State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said that most doses of the vaccine are already assigned to someone, so more supply is needed.

1. State of the State from Governor Kay Ivey

  • Last night, Governor Kay Ivey gave the 2021 State of the State address. She largely focused on helping the state recover from the coronavirus pandemic and distribute the vaccine, but she also touched on Alabama’s prisons and her plan to build multiple prisons.
  • Ivey made education and getting students back to the classroom a focus in her address and proposed a 2% raise for state employees and teachers, according to State Finance Director Kelly Butler. Ivey’s press secretary Gina Maiola said this raise “is both doable financially and the right thing to do after what has been a challenging year.”

3 weeks ago

7 Things: Ivey’s $3 billion plan for prisons, social media companies could lose incentives in Alabama, bill to mandate kindergarten proposed and more …

7. Vaccine skepticism impact could be racial 

  • The vaccine rollout in the United States and Alabama continues as the number of coronavirus cases trends down, but some communities are still slow to jump on board with a vaccine.
  • Hispanic and black communities are reportedly less likely to want the vaccine and less likely to be receiving the vaccine. In Alabama, Tuskegee residents appear to be subjects of repeated stories of vaccine skepticism because of an unethical experiment on black men in the area with syphilis who had medical treatment withheld. 

6. Coronavirus stimulus movement

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  • The debate over the latest attempt at passing another coronavirus stimulus plan, this time for as much as $1.9 trillion, has Democrats attempting to circumvent Republican objections to pass the bill on their own. U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) questions passing the stimulus bill in this manner.
  • While Democrats attempt to move on their own in Congress, 10 Republican U.S. Senators traveled to the White House to try to work out a compromise. This was happening even though President Joe Biden, who preaches a message of unity, has said he doesn’t need Republicans to pass the bill.

5. Economy will bounce back without Biden’s help 

  • The U.S. Congressional Budget Office has estimated that by mid-2021, the economy will be back to pre-pandemic size without President Joe Biden signing additional emergency stimulus or relief packages. Currently, Biden has been advocating for a $1.9 trillion relief package.  
  • The report says that the revival of the economy will be because “Labor market conditions continue to improve.” It adds, “As the economy expands, many people rejoin the civilian labor force who had left during the pandemic, restoring it to its pre-pandemic size in 2022.” It’s also expected that unemployment will be back to the “pre-pandemic level in 2024.” The economic growth is expected to continue until 2026, according to this report.  

4. Raising the penalty for removing a monument  

  • State Representative Mike Holmes (R-Wetumpka) has said that he wants to increase the fine for illegally removing a monument to $10,000 per day in addition to the overall fine of $25,000 under current law.  
  • In a press release, Holmes said, “The only want we can determine where we are going as a state or nation is to remember where we have been, and preserving our history is fundamental in that process.”

3. Making kindergarten mandatory 

  • The legislative session begins today in Alabama, and State Representative Pebblin Warren (D-Tuskegee) is introducing a bill that would make it mandatory for kids in Alabama to attend kindergarten. 
  • Right now, kids are only required to begin attending school at six-years-old for first grade. This bill has passed the House before but failed in the Senate. 

2. Consequences in Alabama for censoring speech?

  • State Representative Chip Brown (R-Hollinger’s Island) has filed a bill that would hold websites and social media platforms accountable for censoring people’s speech by removing state “tax abatements, credits or economic incentive of any kind,” as the bill says. 
  • The only exception would be “a comment or post that is an incitement to violence.” Brown said the motivation in this is because “social media platforms and other websites have used the recent change in presidential administrations as an excuse to censor and remove any speech that simply contradicts their privately-held political beliefs.”

1. Ivey has signed the prison plan

  • Governor Kay Ivey has signed a 30-year contract to build two new prisons in the state. There appears to be no legislative support from either political party on this matter, but that doesn’t really seem to matter because the decision does not require legislative input or support.
  • Reports have shown that the prison plan will end up costing more than $3 billion, but Ivey says the state will actually save money on the matter. She advised, “Leasing and operating new, modern correctional facilities without raising taxes or incurring debt is without question the most fiscally responsible decision for our State.”

4 weeks ago

7 Things: Ages 65+ can get the vaccine soon, Ivey to announce new prison plan is moving forward, Tuberville warns of higher energy prices and more …

7. Wall Street warned that big losses are ahead 

  • The populist stock market rebellion doesn’t appear to be over yet, even as trading services try to limit the power of individual investors.
  • On Friday, Gamestop stocks ended 68% higher, and flailing theater chain AMC Entertainment was up 54% after being targeted by retail investors.

6. New coronavirus stimulus compromise 

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  • A new $600 billion coronavirus relief package has been introduced by a group of Republican senators, including U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA), who also claims that President Joe Biden never reached out to Republicans before introducing the White House’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. 
  • Cassidy said that the alternative package he and other Republicans are supporting is more “targeted” relief. He added that Biden’s actions show he doesn’t “want bipartisanship,” but instead “the patina of bipartisanship.”

5. Prices are about to go up 

  • U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) has come out against the executive orders signed by President Joe Biden that focused on climate change and would shut down some energy operations. 
  • Tuberville said, “[Y]ou are getting ready to see prices jump. They are coming after oil. They’re coming after coal. They’re coming after anything other than wind and solar.”

4. Prison criticism is different under Biden

  • The U.S. Department of Justice has deemed the state of Alabama prisons to be unconstitutional and ordered that changes be made to correct the issue. The state could likely face legal action from the DOJ due to these conditions. 
  • Governor Kay Ivey is expected to sign an agreement to have three new prisons built in the state. State Senator Clay Scofield (R-Guntersville) said that this is “a competently different situation under the Biden administration.” He also raised the concern that if the federal government dictates how changes are made in the system, it’ll likely cost much more. 

3. Prison construction is happening, even with snags 

  • Governor Kay Ivey is expected to announce a unilateral decision to sign leases to build two new state prisons meant to alleviate the overcrowding of the prison system. It will cost close to $3 billion dollars but save money in the long-term even if there is opposition from politicians, activists and the media. 
  • While people on the left and right will gnash their teeth over this decision, the legislature is unlikely to do anything to stop this decision and are generally happy to have this matter being handled by the state’s chief executive. 

2. Alabama’s coronavirus cases are dropping quickly

  • With a vaccine rollout underway, it appears the number of new coronavirus cases is significantly decreasing across the country, especially in nursing homes, and Alabama is no different.
  • But, January was still the most deadly month since the pandemic started, and with deaths being a lagging indicator, it may be a few weeks before those numbers start to drop. Alabama hospitalizations are below 2,000 for the first time since December 6 and down over 1,000 since January 11.

1. Vaccine eligibility expanding

  • Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris announced last week that those 65 years old and older and more frontline workers will be allowed to get vaccinated beginning on February 8.
  • Harris also explained that there’s already an issue with vaccine supply, and currently, most doses are already assigned to someone. Increasing eligibility will likely cause more issues with supply. 

4 weeks ago

7 Things: Coronavirus pandemic could get worse, more vaccine doses for Alabama, Biden’s executive orders could cost Alabama jobs and more …

(YHN)

7. Board of Pardons looking to cut down on backlog

  • The Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles has decided to include additional days to their meeting times so that they can cut down on the backlog of parole requests. They will only consider special dockets for pardons on these days, however.
  • Cam Ward, the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles director, has said that they “want to make sure everyone who is eligible for a pardon hearing is receiving a hearing in the most efficient way.” The backlog currently consists of about 8,500 requests.

6. Cuomo’s failure was even worse in NY

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  • New York Attorney General Letitia James has announced that the number of nursing home deaths that were caused by the coronavirus is likely 50% higher than previously reported. This underreporting was due to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s (D) administration showing how many people died in hospitals instead of nursing homes.
  • Over 20 nursing homes are being investigated in the state for not enforcing coronavirus precautions and underreporting deaths. The controversial decision by Cuomo to send nursing home patients back if they were “medically stable,” according to James, “may have put residents at increased risk of harm in some facilities.” James added, “As the pandemic and our investigation continue, it is imperative that we understand why the residents of nursing homes in New York unnecessarily suffered at such an alarming rate.”

5. Jim Zeigler wants to stop Governor Ivey’s prison plan

  • State Auditor Jim Zeigler has been vocal about his opposition to Governor Kay Ivey’s prison plan to build new prisons in Escambia, Elmore and Bibb Counties, and one of his criticisms is how this “is all being done by the administration,” rather than through the legislature.
  • Zeigler said the plan — where the rent would be $88 million per year on a 30-year contract — “is a bad plan.” He added, “A private businessman would have never concocted such a scheme to pay through the nose for 30 years and then own nothing – zero equity in the plan.” Zeigler is advocating for the plan to be stopped through the legislature, but he’s admitted that it’s going to be a difficult task.

4. So, that Patriot Party thing seems like a no-go

  • Much of the speculation surrounding former President Donald Trump’s political future has centered around in-fighting and the long-shot idea that he would launch his own political party with no chance of actually gaining any political power but with the ability to play spoiler for the Republican Party in future elections. At this point, that seems unlikely.
  • The former president and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) met at Mar-a-Lago to discuss how Trump could help the GOP in the future. After their meeting, it was reported that Trump “has agreed to work with Leader McCarthy.” McCarthy said Trump is “committed to helping elected Republicans in the House and Senate in 2022.”

3. Tuberville and Carl pushing back on energy policies

  • President Joe Biden has signed an executive order that would end the practice of leasing federal lands and offshore areas for drilling, and while this was done in the name of climate change, this will have a negative impact on jobs and the economy, especially in Alabama.
  • Now, U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) and U.S. Representative Jerry Carl (R-Enterprise) have both spoken out against this decision. Tuberville has decided to co-sponsor the Protecting our Wealth of Energy Resources (POWER) Act of 2021. The POWER Act would block Biden’s decision to stop leasing on federal land without congressional approval.

2. Alabama to get more vaccines but won’t expand eligibility

  • Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris appeared before a budget committee in Montgomery and was peppered with questions about the state’s response to the coronavirus.
  • Specifically, Harris was asked how many more vaccine doses the state will receive and when that state will expand eligibility to those 65 years old and above. Harris said there will be 10,000 additional doses over the next three weeks and they are developing a plan to deploy the doses but he did not say when he would be expanding the vaccine rollout to the next group.

1. Fauci: Coronavirus situation will probably get “worse”

  • The coronavirus pandemic within the United States has been improving, and the vaccine rollout has been slow, but it’s expected to pick up speed as time goes on. Dr. Anthony Fauci wants to remind people that the pandemic “potentially could get worse” due to the new variants of the coronavirus.
  • The new variants of the coronavirus are said to be more contagious than the standard strain found in the United States and across the world, but Fauci said the strain that has become more prominent in South Africa “is of greater concern and that could really be problematic.”